Why Different Niches Require Different Approaches To SEO Strategy
It would be great if there was a set SEO strategy that could be applied to any given site and achieve solid results. Sadly, no such strategy exists. Oh, there are general tactics that are always applicable, and you’re always shooting for the same (or very similar) metrics using broadly the same methods — but there are far too many differences between sites to copy and paste your SEO plan and realistically expect things to work out.
This is true of sites with different products, but it’s all the more significant when talking about sites from businesses in different niches. If you’re trying to get a luxury e-commerce store off the ground, you’ll need an approach quite dissimilar to that of an ambitious low-budget hairdresser. And even if you could get away with a generic strategy, you wouldn’t get optimal results. Let’s take a closer look at why your niche affects your SEO requirements so much:
Paths to conversion function differently
Search rankings are valuable because they serve a broader purpose: conversion. Whatever type of business you run, you’re aiming to convert visitors in some way. Steered strongly by your niche, though, you’ll have a distinct definition of conversion. For a retailer, the conversion is simple: a visitor placing an order and becoming a customer. For a consultancy, the kind of conversion desired is a visitor reaching out to arrange a discussion.
With this in mind, consider the type of rankings you’d want for each goal. If you were looking to spark a financial transaction, you’d want to rank for highly-actionable searches and fill your results metadata with pressuring tactics such as encouraging FOMO (“Supplies low, not many left!”) and being braggadocious (I just looked up “buy gadget” and saw the description of the first result — Awesome Stuff to Buy — boasting “a savvy collection of the latest technology, kitchen accessories, and cool gadgets” and “some of the coolest tech gadgets on the web”).
Alternatively, if you were looking to consult, you’d benefit more from steady exposure: ranking for a broader range of searches to keep your brand name coming up and establish expertise and reliability, and using your metadata to express a calm, confident and relaxed tone — saying something like “Available to chat 24/7” doesn’t offer any urgency, but it does lead the reader to view the company behind it as reliable.
Business location varies in importance
How much does local search matter to your business? It really depends on what type of company you run and what you aim to achieve. If it’s vital to your efforts, then you need to cater your SEO strategy accordingly with an eye on local SEO — and if it doesn’t really matter to you (if you operate internationally, for instance), then you should focus on the broadest distribution.
Let’s say you ran a small hairdressing company in the middle of a town, and while you served everyone who wanted their hair cut, you didn’t consider it likely that you could compete with larger chains. The most sensible thing you could do is build your SEO strategy around local rankings, aiming to appear prominently for “[your area] hairdresser” and other such terms (you would struggle to rank well for just “hairdresser” given the competition).
Contrast that with running a nationwide business, which would lead you either to abandon local terms (reasoning that you couldn’t compete with actual local companies) or use a silo approach of creating a distinct locally-optimized page or site for each location — for one example, check out the Anywhere guide to Costa Rica, featuring the exact keyword of “Costa Rica” no fewer than 40 times while just being one of the various similar country-based pages. Regardless, your efforts would end up being markedly different in that scenario.
Competitive niches need long-tail rankings
I talked about the futility of a small-town hairdresser trying to rank for just “hairdresser”, but what about local businesses in hyper-competitive areas, or national businesses trying to get noticed? Being unable to fight for core keywords (local or otherwise), they need to look for other ways to compete in the SEO world — and their path to success involves long-tail keywords.
A long-tail keyword, as the name suggests, is usually a core keyword with various things attached to elevate the specificity. For instance, someone might search for “hairdresser cheap rates good with curly hair evening bookings”. Searches with that level of detail are relatively rare, but they’re incredibly actionable because they’re made by people who know what they’re looking for, and it’s often possible to rank for them because bigger businesses are concentrating exclusively on the most popular terms.
On the other hand, if you’re tackling a relatively-fresh niche — perhaps something that hasn’t really been done before — then you need to prioritize cornering the market by picking up the top rankings for your core terms instead of thinking about high levels of search detail. It’s all about surveying existing rankings, considering how actionable different types of search might be, and coming up with a strategy that gives you the best chance of ranking and converting.
For these reasons, and plenty more, every topical niche you can think of will need a carefully-catered SEO strategy. Don’t make the mistake of settling for a generic set of tactics that don’t take the complexities of your industry into account.